Although it's not a national holiday, August is often referred to as "What will be your legacy month." Each person will leave a legacy to his or her family, whether he or she plans to or not. Most people think about a legacy in financial terms, such as an inheritance, but it's really so much more than simply money. It's everything you do, your hobbies, the way you treat others, your recipes and what you say. Take a few minutes this month to consider your legacy and what you want to leave behind.
Creating a Legacy
Here are some good ideas about leaving a positive legacy to your family:
- Use technology like Ancestry.com to create your family tree. You might be the only one who remembers when your mother's birthday is. Tell the stories that make your family unique. Maybe your mom and dad had to get married twice. The first time they had to go before the German authorities to marry, then the army chaplain had to marry them to ensure the marriage was legal somehow. Make sure your family knows the dates and places you were born, but give them memories to go with those facts. Don't let your stories be forgotten. Write down those family recipes that you make from memory.
- Create a will. Make sure your finances and accounts are in order. Leave instructions for your family about your social media accounts. Give your family the information they need to manage your life after you're gone. Death is stressful enough without adding to the chaos. Let your loved ones remember you positively, instead of thinking about the legal stress they had to go through to close out your estate.
- Write your family members a letter letting them know how much they mean to you. Tell your children what it meant to hold them when they were just born. You hold memories that they don't have. Share those times as part of your legacy to them. You can even give these letters to your executor to hold on to until after you're gone, but you might want to consider sharing them now.
- Give to a charity. Donate those antiques in your attic to a local museum that keeps historical items. Give valuable artwork to a gallery where more people can appreciate it. Set up a scholarship fund for students who are entering the industry in which you've worked for years. Request that your family take a portion of the insurance money and do something for the community in your name.
- Invest your time in things that matter. Everyone gets caught up in the busyness of life. Sometimes, you just have to make it a priority to enjoy life. Make traditions with your family, not only for the holidays and special occasions, but every day. Build relationships with your loved ones so that they know what was important to you. Learn from those in different generations. Play Pokemon Go with your grandkids. Mentor a young person who is struggling. Relationships matter to your legacy.
Teaching Your Family About Legacy
One great way to help celebrate legacy is to have a legacy party. Bring your family together for an afternoon of food and refreshments. Tell stories about your past to give your family a sense of where you came from. Explain why you always make peanut butter pie for Christmas dinner or put oysters in your Thanksgiving stuffing even though you live in a landlocked state. Ask your family members how they want to be remembered. Find out what's important to each of them. Discuss what you hope your legacy will be. If it's not making the mark, make changes in your life to do something different.